Introduction: Established by the Affordable Care Act, the National Quality Strategy (NQS) is the national policy goals aimed at improving the quality of health care for all Americans. The NQS established six priorities to provide better, more affordable care for individuals and communities. This is the first analysis of data on the NQS and access measures that focus on sex differences, health conditions, trends, and disparities.
Methods: Measures from the 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report (QDR) for the four National Quality Strategy priorities (Patient Safety, Person Centered Care, Effective Treatment, and Healthy Living), access to care, and health conditions for women were compared to measures for men. Trends were analyzed for women by health condition and the four NQS priorities and access to care. Baseline year (2000-2002) and most current year (2012-2013) were compared to assess disparity trends. All non-institutionalized women and men in the U.S. over the age of 18 were included in the sample.
Results: Disparities between males and females for the four NQS priority and access measures did not change for 83 percent of measures (n=81); disparities remained constant. The greatest improvement over time for females from the baseline year was in the patient safety measures (3.66 percent increase per year). Access of care measures showed the least amount of improvement with a median change of -1.20 percent per year. The greatest improvement in quality of care by health condition was amongst chronic kidney disease (11.95 median percent change) and HIV/AIDS (6.63 median percent change) measures. Behavioral health measures showed the least amount of improvement with a median change of -0.33 percent per year.
Conclusions: This analysis highlights cardiovascular disease, behavioral health, and access to care as problem areas for women that require immediate attention. It is of concern that 83% of the measures showed a persistent disparity over time between men and women. These results indicate that there is room for improving the quality of healthcare received by women and reducing sex-based disparities experienced by women in the healthcare delivery system.
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